Ruud Questions: Steve Plunkett on Google Is Our Friend

In Doing Things The Right Way " or The Google Way (was: How To Lose Trust) I wrote how aside whatever technical workings of the rel=nofollow attribute there is a lack of common courtesy politeness in the way Google has (not) communicated this change as clearly to the webmaster community as they should have.

@steveplunkett contacted me on Twitter to explain just how he disagreed with me [yes, see, you should be on Twitter too and follow @ruudhein as well -- you not only get to be hip & happening but also get to join the conversation and tell me just how wrong I am].

We soon took it off Twitter: there's no way you can limit Steve's replies to 140 characters. 140 character is his version of "hmmmm"....

You have some reservations about the stance I took in Doing Things The Right Way " or The Google Way (was: How To Lose Trust). What's your concern?

I think we are missing the big picture.

Google's main purpose is to provide it's searchers with the most relevant results in their search engine so they will come back and do more searches. Or click on PPC ads when the right stuff has not been organically optimized to pull up in the top 5 results.

I think the whole "nofollow" thing was started by some whiny SEO blogger anyways... it's not like Matt Cutts said.. "hey i know let's provide a kludge that goes against every other coding of "nofollow" and all accepted standards for the "rel=" programming directive..." nope.. unless I'm completely wrong.. the issue came up and a bunch of people suggested it or more like bitched and bitched and bitched until matt cutts tried to do something to appease them.. .. of course those are all the people who now, have lots of work to do to undo the suggestion.

I don't base my SEO strategy on links or following what every other SEO is doing so it never affected me.. I did think it was a bad idea and said so publicly at ScarySeo in October of last year.

Which is why I don't feel "betrayed" as you seem to, but i do understand your viewpoint. Google said "X" from Google's mouth and therefore it must be law so why did they change the law? I completely understand where you are coming from.


Google is fluid and must remain fluid to fight off spammers, hackers and people who pollute the SERPs with poop.. Matt Cutts is a new thing.. I've been doing SEO since 1995 and I never had anyone to answer my questions on what works.. I just worked with some of the early people to test spam methods and spam blocking methods.. (webcrawler, GO, yahoo, ODP, etc)

How long has MattCutts been taking crap from whiny SEOs?

But i NEVER asked how to rank.. nor have I ever asked Matt Cutts for anything other than better service on the spam report, which he told me, i needed to associate my Gmail username with the report.. that's the closest thing of a hint I've ever asked for and I understand his answer.

It's my job as an SEO professional to figure out how to make my clients get qualified traffic and contribute to better results in google, it's also my job as a Google webmaster to report spam sites, i'm also not supposed to use automated queries on Google.. I don't..

How many SEOs report spam? How many SEOs use tools that bog down Google's server (or at least caused them to beef them up)? So Google is the enemy? the untrusted friend? How many SEOs are NOT Google's friend? This is where the trust issue starts to rub me the wrong way... I follow all the rules, i don't use automated queries to check rank, i go search manually or we have interns that search manually. Yes it takes way more time.. but i can say "my company adheres to Google webmaster guidelines" to a client and be very serious about it. But doesn't this FRIEND thing go both ways..???

If we're friends, doesn't that underscore the Trust issue?

Absolutely.. but If I was Matt Cutts, I'd be the minister of disinformation, I answer everything vague and when it fits the spam increases I'd put out something that would help me identify the spam and not tell anyone what it was used for.. (i.e. nofollow)

I think you have to look at the nature of the man's job.. his job is.. "Google Spam Team"???? Hello? I think he is too nice.. Also, if I'm DJ'ing in a club and you want me to play a song that will clear the dance floor, you may be my best friend.. but I won't be playing it. Some people might get upset I was their "friend" but wouldn't play their song, the smarter ones would figure out, "it would kill the dance floor, so he couldn't"

I agree that Google isn't the enemy. It's not that black-or-white. Somebody somewhere mishandled proper communication.

To quote, I want you to apologize.

I think that's just it... let me hypothesize a few things for a moment..

a. let's pretend google had a spam problem on blogger blogs, let's assume they created nofollow to deal with it.

b. let's pretend a bunch of whiny SEOs bitched and didn't see why this wouldn't work for the links they all have to use as a crutch to rank. they were concerned about linkjuice or whatever.. let's pretend to Matt Cutts, this made sense.

c. LET"S PRETEND - He talked with Google engineers, they said ok.. (one of them thinking in the back of his mind.. "What a great way to identify SEOs and linkbuilders"); seriously I'd do that if I were them.

d. Let's Pretend Matt Cutts is NOT a mind reader so he goes back to the whiny SEOs like Moses and gives them nofollow...

e. let's pretend it's causing problems.. with PageRank, TrustRank whatever the google linking programming is.. etc..

f. let's pretend that the page scuplting properties of nofollow are vapored but the amount of spammers and SEOs that do NOT follow the Google webmaster guidelines have been caught using this method.. so the engineers don't really tell Matt, yet...

Now.. if we PRETEND that's the way it went down.. is Google still the "enemy" ?

also.. if I want you to say "sorry" and I have to tell you to do so.. it kind of devalues its

One of your arguments was that Google is one of the reasons we have a career, work, a business. So? What?

I honestly think that Google should be like the soup bully.. you argue with them? NO SOUP FOR YOU.

It's their search engine, their money, their bandwidth, you do NOT have a constitutional right to be listed in Google. you can always pay for it though. =)

(DISCLAIMER: yes I own a bit of google stock, so I see things differently)

The Florida update, this update, that update... none of these have ever really effected me or my clients, except the one update where they started using bounce rate more.. and that just allowed me a better metric to provide better results for searchers of my clients.

Again, part of my job is to figure out how google works.. it is why I get paid. all those "public" tricks, i.e. links, nofollow etc.. are things everyone uses.. what will keep me in business for years to come is my ability to figure out Google and NOT use the same techniques everyone else does.. or at least not in the same way.. I still use the same stuff i have always used, now I just make sure my bounce rate is 0% to stay there. the ranking theory is still the same, it's just staying there is no longer keyword mods, but user experience to maintain top SERPs position.

Sure, it's easy to blame Google and their right to handle search as best as they can. But this is not about that. It's about choosing to communicate something to the webmaster community, changing an essential part of what was communicated -- and then not talking about that until a year later.

I think you have to look at the nature of the conversation.. I don't think Matt Cutts came up with this on his own.. and set it forth to the SEO commuinity, other than a response.. am I right or wrong? (i can be wrong a lot, that's how i learn, from my mistakes)

I saw how it worked.. i did an experiment with 14 people to prove it didn't work in December.. again.. I really don't think Google pulled it out, I think it was a response.. now... again I understand it was on the Google Webmaster blog so how could they change it.. ok.. how long did it take for XML sitemaps to actually become useful? Has Google ever written something and changed their minds?

Thank you for taking the time to communicate with me, I understand this is what your post was about. All you really wanted was Google to say.. "umm.. guys.. this umm.. nofollow thing, it's kinda not going to stick around, so advance notice.. you need to remove it." Isn't this what you really wanted? but.. Google hasn't always been very helpful on how to exploit their product, have they.. and I hope they never are.. but please keep up the great articles you write.

And you? Do you have an opinion on Google and Fair Play?

About the Author: Ruud Hein

My paid passion at Search Engine People sees me applying my passions and knowledge to a wide array of problems, ones I usually experience as challenges. People who know me know I love coffee.

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